WH Smith can’t turn the page on falling High Street book sales

Adam Hignett
Originally founded in 1792 the firm took advantage of the railway boom to fuel expansion
WH SMITH reported stalling sales yesterday as solid growth in travel was offset by declines in its high street business.

Overall, year-on-year growth for the 13 week period ending 30 May remained flat as the stationer struggled to buoy up its core high street business which saw sales fall four per cent on a like-for-like basis. However, falling sales were partially negated by improving margins and further cost savings which WH Smith said were being delivered on target, leading analysts to believe profits will be in line with expectations.

There was better news in the groups travel sector, which operates out of stations and airports, with a reported eight per increase in total sales for the period compared to the year before.

Analysts were optimistic about prospects at the group, pointing out the strong growth in the travel sector should pick up further as the holiday season kicks off.

Markets reacted with shares closing up 2.21 per cent at 1,572p.